Hey, all you awesome readers out there! If you clicked on this, it probably means that you're a fan of Joe Kelly and are eager to hear what he has to say about his many incredible projects! If that's not the case and you clicked on this article by accident, stick around; I guarantee you'll be happy you did.
So, who is Joe Kelly? Well, for those who aren't aware, Joe Kelly is a writer and director responsible for some of the coolest comic book stories featuring the coolest comic book characters!
Not to be confused with the pitcher of the same name, Kelly hits home runs of his own, but his tend to happen on the page rather than in the outfield. Is that a good baseball analogy? I... I don't know a lot about baseball.
Anyway, Joe Kelly is responsible for epic stories featuring comic legends such as Daredevil, Spider-Man, Superman, and my personal all-time favorite hero, DEADPOOL!
That's right, the "Merc with a Mouth" himself! Joe Kelly's greatest comic book accomplishment, in my eyes, was breathing new life into Deadpool, and shaping the version of the character that we still know and love to this day!
But like any writer/director, Joe Kelly is challenging himself to make something just a little different from what we've seen from him before—with Poughkeepsie!
Poughkeepsie is a short film written and directed by Joe Kelly. It tells the story of an old man named George Dawes, who is dying of Alzheimer's. George has been a jerk to everyone in his life, and after believing that he can travel back in time, he tries to rewrite his past and fix his mistakes before time runs out.
It's a dramatic story with a little touch of magic, and one that definitely needs to be seen. But how soon we see it is entirely up to YOU! Well you and me, and everyone else in the world.
Joe Kelly has taken to Kickstarter to get his new project funded. I'm very interested in Poughkeepsie, and I definitely think it deserves to be made.
But don't take my word for it. Take the director's! I got to ask Joe a few questions, about his project. While I stuck mostly to the topic of his new short film, I had to slip some Deadpool-related questions in there, as well as some questions about his other awesome projects!
An Interview With Joe Kelly
Q: What made you want to make a touching and almost magical story like 'Poughkeepsie'?
Kelly: Dramas with a touch of magic really capture my imagination. They're a bridge between the more mature work I've done and genre pieces that I've built a career on. Poughkeepsie came about as a piece that could marry a drama with some fantastical elements; allowing me to work with actors on complex characters and still play with a wide range of visual storytelling tools, including special effects.
Also, thematically I obsess on stories about broken people and whether or not they can find redemption, peace or growth in life. Our protagonist is both broken as a character (not the nicest guy in the world) and he's physically broken as Alzheimer's wears him down mentally and physically. Looking for catharsis with a character like that is my bread and butter. Not to say that I don't love a good laugh, but this time I was drawn to the drama.
Q: The story is very emotional, not unlike your graphic novel 'I Kill Giants', but what made you decide to make it a film rather than a book?
Kelly: Poughkeepsie is definitely a cousin of I Kill Giants. There are themes that overlap: dealing with the inevitability of death, fighting a seemingly impossible battle, families plagued by disease. But where Giants tackles all of this from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl, Poughkeepsie lands on the opposite end of the spectrum. We're following the story of a man in his late '70s/early '80s who's been kind of a bastard to people around him. So here he is, dying, almost alone... and he starts thinking back on his life. These memories seem to crack open, and the universe provides him a second shot at getting it right. Sort of. Some things can't be undone. And, of course, it could all be in his head.
Then there's working with actors. I can't draw, but I communicate mood, motivation and subtext with people for a living. Poughkeepsie provides an opportunity to work with actors and coax out performances that will hopefully intrigue and entrance an audience.
So between the subtleties in performance I'm looking for, the nature of the concept and the visual design of the project, a film was the only way to go.
Q: The story of 'Poughkeepsie' is about a man dying of Alzheimer's who believes he can go back in time. How are you going about making the viewer believe this too?
Kelly: Working with my DP, Ed Stephenson, we have spent a lot of time designing the look of the film. I actually storyboarded the entire movie so that he could see what's in my head. Though there are a few special effects involved, we're both really into in-camera tricks and transitions that keep the viewer rooted in the moment.
Part of the tension of the story is keeping the audience wondering what's real and what's a fantasy, and whether or not George is truly changing his life from the past. It's an exciting challenge and I believe we can nail it.
Q: Alzheimer's disease is, of course, a very real disease that many people either have or know someone in their life who does. Would you say that 'Poughkeepsie' handles the reality of Alzheimer's well?
Kelly: Unfortunately, we have folks on our team with family members who have been touched by dementia and I did lots of research into the disease as well. George is more lucid than not on screen because of the story we're trying to tell. Poughkeepsie imagines what happens during the times when a person seems "lost," positing that perhaps they're reliving the past.
To the degree that we are trying to articulate what could be happening inside the mind of an Alzheimer's patient, I think we're in territory that has some scientific plausibility, but that isn't the goal. We're very respectful of the condition and people who have it. Poughkeepsie is my way of dealing with the fear and reality of Alzheimer's from a different angle.
Q: Straying a bit away from 'Poughkeepsie', your popular comic series, 'I Kill Giants', is in the process of being turned into a feature film. What can fans of the series, myself included, expect from this film?
Kelly: I adapted the screenplay myself and can tell you honestly that I love it to death. All of our partners on the film love the graphic novel and have been exceptionally cool about staying as faithful to the source as reality allows. When reality requires that we make changes or tweaks to translate a comic into a film - I'm the one doing the translating. That's the dream for me.
Fans of the book will be thrilled. Folks who don't know it was a comic first will go on a heartfelt and exciting journey with Barbara as she kills her giants. I think it's going to blow people away.
Q: You have long been credited for revising and revitalizing Deadpool, and helping to create the version of the Merc with a Mouth that we still know and love today. What would you say was your favorite Deadpool story to write?
Kelly: I loved writing Deadpool. That character was a cornerstone of my career, and I'm lucky enough to be working with him again on Spider-Man + Deadpool.
Kelly: It's hard to pick a favorite. Sending him back in time to an old Spider-Man issue was a great one and very funny. That said, any time I could torture Deadpool and send him to a dark place like when he locked Al in "the box," I felt like the book was on the right track.
And, of course, having Deadpool kick Captain America in the stones was sort of a special moment.
Q: I love to ask people who their favorite superhero is, and since you've written stories for a numerous amount of heroes, I want to ask: What was your favorite hero to write?
Kelly: Superman actually grew on me as a character. I love the ideas he represents, especially in the context of the real world and the overly dark comics universe we see on the stands now. I'm very proud of my run on that book. Polar opposite from Deadpool, which I'm also proud of. And of course, Spider-Man, my all-time favorite...
I'm bad at this question. I love them all. They're like your kids, can't pick a favorite.
I agree, it is hard to decide on your favorite child. But that's what battles to the death are for!
Q: You, along with your fellow writers at Man of Action Entertainment created 'Ben 10', a hit franchise that ended last year with 'Ben 10: Omniverse'. In 2017, the franchise will be rebooted with a new series set to premiere on Cartoon Network. This being a reboot, what can we expect from the new show? Will it be more like the original 'Ben 10', the various sequels, or can fans expect something entirely new and different?
Kelly: The new show is fantastic. Seriously I am in love with it and the folks at CN are too. Unfortunately, if I say anything about it at all, I'll vanish from the face of the Earth. I will say that we are doing what we always try to do at Man of Action - make the best show that we can which both thrills older fans and delights newer ones.
Ben 10 is 10 years old now, so there is a whole crop of kids who've never seen him before! It's going to be amazing to introduce him to a new crop of kids - but we have an eye set firmly on the classic shows.
Q: Man of Action Entertainment is also working on a 'Mega Man' series, set to premiere in 2017. What can fans of Man of Action's style, as well as the original 'Mega Man' games, expect to see from this new series?
Kelly: Mega Man is an iconic character and we are giving him the treatment he deserves! The show we're developing is fun and exciting, paying homage to a 30-year-old franchise while bringing a new spin to it. We've been having a great time working with Dentsu and Capcom, and I think both old fans and new viewers will find elements that thrill them. You'll see there's a theme here when it comes to animation!
Q: You mentioned under the 'Why back Poughkeepsie?' section of your Kickstarter page that the short film features "characters that the mainstream market ignores." Are you confident that 'Poughkeepsie' does a good job of bringing these non-mainstream characters, and issues, into the mainstream?
Kelly: I think as much as any short film will, Poughkeepsie aspires to bring certain types of characters and a point of view to light that we don't normally see. Many people are afraid of folks who are nearing the end of their lives. They're definitely afraid of folks with Alzheimer's or dementia.
These people remind us of the fragility of our own lives; that we come with an expiration date. To see an older man struggling with his existence at the end of his days in a story that at its core is ultimately one of hope is a mainstream win to me. How deep into the mainstream will ultimately be determined by eyeballs, I suppose, but we're doing our part!
Q: You also mentioned that directing 'Poughkeepsie' is a bit of a creative departure for you. You've worked in comics and animation, your works have usually included action, superheroes, and horror, while Poughkeepsie is a live-action drama. Will fans of your original work enjoy Poughkeepsie?
Kelly: I think so. As I mentioned before, there is a shared DNA between Poughkeepsie and I Kill Giants. Even Deadpool. Left-of-center characters in strange and mysterious circumstances faced with very real, personal issues. These are the types of stories I like to write.
I can say with confidence that if someone has shed a tear over I Kill Giants or gotten an emotional punch in the gut from one of my superhero books, this is a film for them.
Q: Finally, for those still not entirely convinced in backing this incredible short film, why should people fund 'Poughkeepsie'?
Kelly: Short films are a unique beast. By their nature they need help to be produced whether it's a bunch of favors from friends or crowdfunding or a lot of time. They are not an obvious "investment" like a feature film and they are not a tangible product like a graphic novel - but they are a wonderful medium for great stories.
Simply put, there are not enough great stories out there because of the high-cost nature of producing films and TV series, even if we are in a TV renaissance!... Folks should consider backing Poughkeepsie because they want to see something fresh, a little experimental and heartwarming that's not a straight up genre piece.
Poughkeepsie is special to me, and I hope it will be for others: a short film that will stick with an audience for a long time.
Well there you have it, now you know all you need to know about Poughkeepsie! If you think it sounds like an interesting short film, please contribute to funding it by heading to the Kickstarter page!
And as always if you enjoyed this article, make sure to tell your friends, families, enemies and co-workers!